Ties: Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, who arrived in New Delhi yesterday on his first foreign visit after taking office, will meet Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh today to finalise India’s assistance to Bhutan’s 11th Plan.
Bhutan has proposed for an assistance of Rs 45B in the form of program grant, project-tied assistance and small development projects in the 11th Plan. Bhutan has also requested for Rs 5B outside the plan as a stimulus package for the Bhutanese economy that is grappling with a liquidity crunch and a shortage of Indian rupee to pay for imports from India. A request for an additional Rs 4B has also been made for spillover projects from the 10th Plan, which wound up on June 30 this year.
Yesterday, lyonchhoen met with a number of Indian leaders, who gave ‘full assurances’ of support, Bhutanese foreign ministry officials said.
“I’ve had very productive and useful meetings today with many Indian leaders, characterised by frank exchanges of views on mutual interest and common concerns,” lyonchhoen said after the meetings. “All of them have expressed full support to our country, in particular to our 11th Plan and our special bilateral relations.”
Lyonchhoen said he is extremely pleased to be able to make Delhi his first visit abroad. “I’m looking forward to my meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Pranab Mukherjee,” lyonchhoen said.
The national security advisor, Shivshankar Menon, was the first Indian leader to call on lyonchhoen yesterday, followed by the minister for home affairs Sushilkumar Shinde, the finance minister P Chidambaram, the foreign secretary Sujatha Singh, and the vice-president of the Indian National Congress, Rahul Gandhi.
Foreign secretary Sujatha Singh said the government of India deeply appreciates that the prime minister of Bhutan has chosen to visit India first. “We look forward to very strong cooperation with Bhutan, as has been the case in the past,” she said. “The visit means that India and Bhutan share very close economic ties, as has been in the past.”
The prime minister will today also meet the UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi, and call on the president and vice president.
The minister of state for home affairs, Ratanjit Pratap Narain Singh, the foreign secretary, the Indian ambassador to Bhutan VP Haran and the chief of protocol Ruchira Kamboj received the Bhutanese prime minister when he landed in New Delhi yesterday.
Lyonchhoen Tshering Tobgay is on a five-day official visit to India on the invitation of the prime minister of lndia, (Dr) Manmohan Singh.
Lyonchhoen will also travel to Hyderabad to visit lT parks in Hitech City, and meet the governor of Andhra Pradesh, ESL Narasimhan.
Lyonchhoen Tshering Tobgay is accompanied by his wife, Tashi Doma, foreign minister Rinzin Dorji and other senior government officials. The delegation returns on September 4.
By Sonam Pelden| New Delhi